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Tunisia-Business Angels: when innovation becomes a vehicle for development

“They can because they believe they can,” this is one of factor for the success of economic recovery in Tunisia, said Maher Kallel, the President of the first Association of Business Angels in Tunisia, in an interview with AfricanManager.

Which role for Business Angels in the current economic situation of the country?

First, I would like to explain the Anglo-Saxon concept of Business Angels, which is based on the fact that a young person has an innovative idea but lacks resources, and it is in this risky transition that Business Angels intervenes.

The country has probably missed innovations because the funding process, particularly the BFPME, lacks a very important nucleus to develop ideas that run counter to normal, and which is the funding. Business Angels invest in innovative projects but also provide the network and in some cases introduce clients. It is coaching that misses in existing incubators in Tunisia.

Business Angels leave the project in a certain stage of maturity and earns from its financial support only 5 to 10% in order to always be the bearer of the key idea of the project.

What remedies do you suggest to handle this situation?

We encourage young people by giving value to the idea which is the actor for the success of young entrepreneurs who have not already succeeded.

The remedy is a virtual economy in the sense that ideas are the vectors of development and showing through success experiences that everyone can succeed.

This is not made only from a capital that evokes a direct relation of investors and employees but through a change in the relationship, because there are young people aged 25/30 years who are employing older people. This means that you can pay the ideas under the shape of actions and create a relationship of partnership within the company itself.

Therefore, this is another model of the social contract on which we work.

In your actual presence in the process of creating businesses which criticisms do you level at this economic policy?

Like the simplified limited liability companies (SAS) that exist in the United States or England, the law must change to facilitate paperwork and provide more tax benefits. This is the challenge.

Tunisia now needs a different kind of companies that should be granted facilities at the structural and institutional levels.

The Instability and social movements facing the country carry risks. What is your perception on the eve of the New Year and what are the chances of a successful economic recovery?

We need to restore an environment of trust and encourage the development of SMIs and SMEs.

Certainly, one must have a positive attitude to return to work rather than stagnating in claims and basically believe in the growth and economic development of Tunisia.

The opposition should help the new government in terms of advice, solutions and alternatives.

Personally, I dream of a partnership between the UGTT and UTICA. In this regard, I note that the role of the UGTT is no longer political, but must serve the promotion of economic development through the support of employees to develop businesses. The UTICA also has a new role as dialogue was always absent between the two unions which I believe must communicate as partners in one goal despite the specific typology of each, which is establishing confidence to recruit and invest and accordingly achieve economic growth in Tunisia.

And as they say, “they can because they believe they can”.

What is your message to Tunisian youth?

Believe in yourself. Be self-confident because no one will give you that confidence. Believe in the project of your life and be able to achieve it through a unique way: hard work and patience that leads to success.

And finally I would like also to ask businesses not to condemn failure at first, but to forgive and start over because it’s normal to fail at our beginnings. The most important thing is to persist and work to succeed.


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